OXFORD GROUP WORKSHOP

LECTURE NOTES 10th MAY

"FUNCTION"

Yang style Tai Ji Quan

The reason we are here today learning Yang style Tai Ji Quan is because of the teachings of one exceptional man; Grandmaster Yang Cheng Fu who died at the early age of fifty-three (in 1936).
In his short life he devised the Form we know, love and respect today.     

Whilst other Yang Style masters and instructors were teaching select students in the nineteenth and early twentieth century's their styles remained relatively obscure and virtually unknown in the West.  

 Grandmaster Yang Cheng Fu took a radically different approach, in keeping with his warm, giving and gentle personality, he was among the first to openly teach his family's Yang Style to the public after the overthrow of the Ch'ing dynasty in 1912.

Like no other Tai Ji master, he saw the promulgation of his art as a way to unite the Chinese people, and Southern China was particularly open to his teachings. His reputation and teaching style attracted a large number of young, energetic and highly skilled students from far and wide, all of whom were devoted to him.

Number 3. Relaxation Of Waist

For the human body, the waist is the dominant part. When you relax the waist, your two feet will be strong enough to form a firm base. All the movements depend on the action of the waist, as the saying goes: "Vital force comes from the waist". Inaccurate movements in Tai Ji Quan stem from the erroneous actions of the waist.

Number 7. Coordination Of Upper And Lower Parts

According to the theory of Tai Ji Quan, the root is in the feet, the force is launched through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers; the feet, the legs and the waist form a harmonious whole. When the hands, the waist and the legs move, the eyes should follow their movements. This is meant by coordination of the upper and lower parts. If any part should cease to move, then the movements will be disconnected and fall into disarray.                                          
When reviewing the practise exercises and your performance or the Forms today, have a look at the old and grainy photos of Grandmaster Yang Chen-fu. There is a man who can distinguish his Yin from his Yang. The principles are all there to guide you far more eloquently than any explanation I can give you.








Qigong: The “Grandmother of Tai Chi”


Qigong
is 'breath work' or 'energy work'.
Qi (On the left) means breath,  'life force' or 'energy'.



Gong
(on the right) means work applied to a discipline or the level of skill obtained by work.
Qigong (or ch'i kung) is at least 3,000 years old and is rooted in observations of nature. It was initially developed within the Taoist tradition. It includes a wide variety of traditional practices which use movement and/or regulated breathing designed to cultivate or generate energy, to guide energy flow.


 - As part of Martial Art training
 - For health or
 - As a medical treatment

There are 2 main categories of Qi Gong:   
                                                                                                
 - External (wai dan) - synchronised movement with breath awareness.
 - Internal (nei dan) – visualisation and meditation-based practices.


External /Physical Movement:

To function well in the art we want to become more and more aware of what is happening in our bodies and ever more sensitive to our energy flow.    





                                                                                                     
First we try to become aware of where we are stiff, if we are unbalanced, whether we are uncoordinated. This is why the first step in Tai Ji Quan practice is the External Qigong of the preparatory exercise to loosen each joint and soften every muscle.








Internal /Meditation:

”All information is available in the present moment” (I Ching). In terms of function, meditation is a way to focus the mind in the present moment by stopping the internal dialogue. Eventually we aspire to the quality of meditation achieved by the Taoists, whose philosophy is so closely intertwined with our art. They took the process one step further and used visualization to influence and direct their Qi energy.


There are three interdependent aspects underpinning Qi Gong practice which represent the unification of the Three Treasures:

They are:  

Jing - Body posture/movement (physical relaxation)
Chi - Breath awareness to circulate chi
Shen -Mind (intention/concentration/focus)

               

Remedial Dancing

Qi-gong is thought to have originated as a form of "remedy dancing" created for healing and health.  After many long-term struggles with nature, the ancients gradually realized the value of harmony and of the body movements, exclamations, and ways of breathing that could help readjust certain body functions. Today we will look at how function is affected by attending to the:

Manuscript drawing of physical excercises. 
Dao-Yin (guided energy flow) from an
ancient tomb of the Han dynasty. 







Six Harmony Theory

There are Three Internal Harmonies and the Three External Harmonies  

There are Three Internal Harmonies and the Three External Harmonies.  The three external harmonies to guide us with wai gong (external work) training are:   
                 
 - The shoulders in harmony with the hips,
 - The elbows in harmony with the knees and
 - The hands in harmony with the feet


The three internal harmonies guiding  us with nei gong (internal work ) training are: 

 - The mind in harmony with the intent,
 - The intent in harmony with qi and
 - The qi in harmony with the power.








Dr Peter Bennett

May 08